Title: Sports Collectible Market Declines in 2023, Altan Insights Report Reveals
Subtitle: Ultra-modern and modern cards see significant sales drop, vintage cards fare better
Meta Description: The sports collectible market experienced a decline in 2023, with ultra-modern and modern cards experiencing the sharpest decrease in sales, while vintage cards performed relatively better, according to a report by Altan Insights.
The sports collectible market took a hit in 2023, according to a comprehensive report by Altan Insights, a company specializing in monitoring sales across various collectible markets. The report, based on data from Card Ladder, revealed a downward trend that started approximately 18 months ago and continued throughout the year.
Sales of ultra-modern cards, which are cards issued from 2009 to the present, saw a significant decline of 34.8% compared to the previous year. Modern cards, defined as those from 1984 to 2008, also experienced a downturn, with sales dropping by 30.8%. However, vintage cards fared relatively better, despite a decline in overall sales.
In the fourth quarter of 2023, vintage and pre-war cards outperformed their modern and ultra-modern counterparts, further solidifying their advantage in the collectible market for the year. Altan’s report pointed out that football, soccer, racing, and basketball cards saw the most substantial price declines.
The report highlighted that high-end football cards, particularly those of quarterbacks, struggled to regain their value, with injuries to popular quarterbacks in the latter half of the season exacerbating the situation. Additionally, the top 50 sales at most auction houses experienced a significant decline from 2022 to 2023. Interestingly, the decline was less pronounced in the next tier of sales, indicating a slightly stronger demand in the mid-range market segment.
Key findings from Altan’s 41-page report on the fourth quarter and the year 2023 include a 40% year-over-year and 27% quarter-over-quarter drop in the number of six-figure auction sales in Q4. This marked the lowest total in the past three years, signaling a noticeable decrease in high-value sales.
In 2023, there were eleven recorded sales of baseball items exceeding $1 million, with eight of them involving cards or memorabilia of legendary figures Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. These sales were spread across five different auction houses, highlighting the continued demand for iconic players.
Basketball cards experienced a distinct shift from the previous year, with no seven-figure sales recorded in 2023 compared to twelve in 2022. Altan attributed this disappearance in demand to modern patch cards at high price points, which failed to regain popularity throughout the year.
Examining the top-selling cards of currently active basketball players on eBay in the last four months of 2023, the list featured names like LeBron James, Victor Wembanyama, Steph Curry, Luka Doncic, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, the market for LeBron James and Steph Curry cards across all platforms saw a significant decline of over 40% last year, while Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant cards remained relatively stable.
Interestingly, Jordan cards from the late 1990s accounted for five of the top ten Jordan card sales in the fourth quarter, including three of the top five. This indicates the enduring popularity of Michael Jordan and the continued demand for cards featuring him from that era.
While the market for game-worn and game-used memorabilia showed only modest growth compared to the previous year, the top 25 and top 50 sales in this category in 2023 were more than double the levels achieved in 2021. This suggests that collectors and investors still have a strong interest in owning unique pieces of sports history.
Overall, Altan Insights’ report provides a comprehensive overview of the changing dynamics within the sports collectible market. It sheds light on the fluctuations in different segments and highlights the evolving interests of collectors and investors in this domain.